Beneath the Layers - Mother's Day
This is a series that we started this year - in the spirit of vulnerability. It's on my heart to open this space up to more personal things, to keep it vulnerable and a place where you can come to feel validated. As women, and moms, we often times feel the same feelings, no matter how many kids you do or don't have, no matter where you live or what you do. But somehow, we all think we're alone, we think we're crazy for being crazy, and feel misunderstood. But guess what? Your crazy is actually totally relatable, while it might appear different on the outside, the heart of the matters are all the same. I hope you can find some inspiration, some hope and maybe even a few laughs knowing that we're all in this together. There's peace & unity in community.
Each month, I want to address a fear that I have, and a negative thought or self-talk that I engage with. What will follow those is an affirmation that I tell myself, something to combat those feelings, along with an action plan of how I intend to conquer those thoughts.
My hope in sharing these with you is to show you that you're not alone. It's easy to look at someone's life (or what you might think you know of it) and make judgments, assumptions and even paint a vivid picture. "She has it all together, she doesn't have struggles, her kids are perfect, her marriage is incredible, etc.." But guess what? We ALL struggle, and while many of our struggles can look different, they all feel. I want to live in a world where feelings are currency - where we can exchange feelings and invest in peoples hearts, invest in their feelings - not in their circumstances or image.
Today's Beneath the Layers is in honor of Mother's Day.
I don't even know where to start here, but I guess I'd just like to lay out the fact that motherhood is really freaking scary. I remember when I first thought about getting pregnant - Collin and I had been married for a little over a year and decided we wanted to start a family. It wasn't rare for me to think "so many things in my life have gone "right" - I found my husband, we have a beautiful home, successful careers, our health, and good relationships - getting pregnant is where I'm going to be dealt a poor hand". Maybe it was anxiety, perhaps just "foreboding joy" - whatever it was - my anxiety around motherhood started before I was even with-child.
Once we had kids, the fear escalated to new levels and still manages to do so when I let it grab hold. I would go into all the things I fear, but I hesitate to give my anxieties legs to run. I'll just say this: if it "could happen", I've likely played it out. Our brains are powerful. Being a mama has stretched me in countless ways, but mentally, I have grown the most. I have had to conquer fears, stretch myself so far out of my comfort zone and release myself from things I can not control (almost daily).
Motherhood (in all of it's forms) is likely the most vulnerable form of human connection that there is. It's an ever-changing concoction of overwhelming love, debilitating anxiety, jaw-dropping humility and responsibility that's weight cannot be measured. There is a gravity about motherhood that is felt so deep to your core - a gravity that can not be unknown from the very first moment.
I have SO many thoughts when it comes to motherhood, but some of my most frequent ones are born from a place of scary love. A love so deep, it actually hurts. It's magic & manic all at once. Am I crazy? Why do I let myself think these things? Am I selfish for not leaving my kids to go away for a weekend? Am I selfish for leaving my kids to go away with Collin? Are they going to be ok? Who's going to take care of them if something ever happened to me? Will they resent me? Do they get enough quality time? Am I holding them and being close to them enough? Am I missing a moment? The burden to "soak it all in" can feel SO heavy some times. Are they safe? Are they confident? How can I love a little person SO much it hurts?
I've talked a lot about anxiety in this series in regard to my kids, but one of the most powerful ways I'm able to cope with it is learned from a Brene Brown podcast with Oprah. She talks about how so frequently, we forebode joy by dress rehearsing tragedy. Dress. Rehearsing. Tragedy. This struck me deep. I do this! ALL THE TIME! I resist really indulging in a moment because I'm afraid of what could go wrong and how bad that might feel. It's our natural instinct to protect ourselves, but in that process, we disable our ability to feel deep joy. It's SO easy to think of all the things that can go wrong but really soaking in the joyful moments is where the magic takes place.
I'm a really great mom. I am passionate about being a mom and this is the plan that God has laid out for my life. My children are not my own, and I trust that God is watching over them, just as he is watching over me. I feel the weight of his love for me through the process of becoming a mom.
My kids care about me, they want to be close, they want to learn and I take that responsibility very seriously. I want to guide them & teach them principles but let them execute as they will. I want to teach them about love & faith, about humility and grit. I'm not here to show them how-tos, I'm here to guide them while they feel, grow, rise and fall. I can do that. I can be here for them.
This comes with a lot of intention, practice and time, but letting go is really where I've grown. I listened to a podcast recently on the topic of motherhood & ego. We as parents, so often have a sense of EGO when it comes to our children. We feel good about ourselves as a direct result of their success, their accomplishments, their good choices. And guess what, the opposite also occurs. We let their failures represent us as parents, we let them dicatate our worth. We treat them as ours. This podcast talked about releasing your ego (actually killing it, I believe), letting your child (regardless of age) come into their own and guiding them without owning them. They're a person, just like you & me and if we can foster them and guide them without that responsibility of OWNERSHIP, there's a sense of relationship that occurs. YOU did not create this person, they came through you but they're not OF you. When I release that "ownership", I find myself more comfortable releasing some of my anxieties for my kids.
I want my kids to know that I would lay down my life for them, but to remember that someone else has already laid down His life for us and that they are His, not mine. That God covers us, protects us & loves us more than I am ever capable of. He's got the brothers & the sisters in his hands. Somehow, motherhood is a little less scary that way.
Let's remember that we're all in this together, that often the best support is someone who's going through it right there with you. I hope you'll share in the comments if you have other responses, fears, or vulnerabilities - sometimes talking about it is just enough to take that weight off our shoulders!